The University of Texas-San Antonio will be getting itself a football team.
The University of Texas System Board of Regents today approved UTSA’s plan to add a football program.
The plan calls for UTSA to develop an $84 million athletic complex, to add a Football Championship Subdivision football program and to advance all sports teams to a Football Bowl Subdivision conference.
Under the plan, UTSA could hire a football coach or a program administrator by February.
UTSA would sign its first class of recruits in 2010, would sign another class in 2011 and then would kick off as an FCS team at the Alamodome in the fall of that year.
The school will need to raise $15 million in a capital campaign for the football program.
Another $62 million is needed to complete the athletic complex.
UTSA will fund the initiative through student fees, corporate and private support and other revenue streams that do not draw from the institutional academic budget.
In September 2007, UTSA students overwhelmingly supported a referendum to expand the athletics program and double the athletic fee over the next five to seven years.
I realize that college football is a hugely expensive undertaking, and that most schools spend millions more per year than they take in, but I think UTSA might be in a position to do a lot better than that, for one simple reason: They’ll have almost no competition in the area for bigtime sports. The only major league team is the NBA’s Spurs, and all of the other colleges in San Antonio are NAIA or Division III. Other than Austin and UT, the same is largely true in a fairly wide area around San Antonio, especially to the south and west. UTSA has a decent-sized alumni base, which is mostly local – the story says that “80 percent of the university’s 76,000 alumni continue to live in the immediate area” – and the marketing opportunities for a Roadrunners football team ought to be pretty lucrative, if they approach it aggressively and creatively enough. Keep an eye on this, they could come out of nowhere and be a consistent bowl attendee in a decade’s time or so, like the University of South Florida.
Currently, UTSA sports teams play in the Southland Conference. The Southland is affiliated with the FCS, formerly Division I-AA.
Eventually, after several years, UTSA hopes to join a conference in the FBS, formerly Division I-A.
The Big 12, with Texas and Texas A&M, plays in the FBS. But UTSA isn’t in talking about taking its teams to that level. Instead, Conference USA, the Sun Belt and the Western Athletic Conference are being mentioned as potential destinations.
C-USA is probably the best geographic fit, but let’s not put the cart before the horse. Ask me again about this in 2015 or so. Thanks to Stace for the tip.